Almost any commercial business nowadays -whether is a shop, café, restaurant or even grocery store- use music to create an ambience, to lure costumers and generate a mood that mirrors the business culture. But music is not only a decorative artifact, it represents hours of work and hundreds of people involved in making it.
“Regardless of industry everybody should be paid for the work they do,” said jazz trumpet player and composer Nadje Noordhuis. To guarantee that artistic work is respected the U.S. Copyright Act was created. This law, which protects music, provides monetary rights to copyright owners when their music is used.
Businesses are required to have a license to play music the same way you pay to use a cd from your favorite artist; however with new technologies things have changed.
“Internet is an intangible situation where writers and publisher are losing money,” said Johnny Allen, blues and R&B guitar player.
Songwriters, composers and music publishers usually become members of a performing rights organization that license their music to the public. In America the American, Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcasts Music, Inc. (BMI) or the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers make sure to repay royalties to their owners. Nevertheless, in a world increasingly digital, keeping track of how people consume music is not easy anymore.
The U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress recently announced the beginning of a new Music Licensing Study to help Congress review the U.S. Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. 101. The aim is to “evaluate the effectiveness of existing methods of licensing music.” Every person interested in this discussion can submit written comments before May 16 to www.copyright.gov/docs/musiclicensingstudy/
“Hopefully whatever they decide is going to still allow composers to be paid for their time and effort,” said Noordhuis. “I just hope the business people can represent the composers in a way that is fair.”